Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.

Yemen: AQAP conducts two separate attacks targeting STC-backed forces in Abyan; STC-backed forces prevent AQAP attack in Abyan; AQAP fighters detonate IED on STC-backed military vehicle in Abyan; Local Hadrami leader appears with US-sanctioned AQAP facilitator; Winds cause Houthi naval mines to float into international waterways

Somalia: Al Shabaab launches a series of attacks in northeastern Kenya; al Shabaab temporarily seizes a recently transitioned forward operating base in southern Somalia; an al Shabaab suicide bomber attacks the Ministry of Defense; Danab and local forces clear a village in southern Somalia; al Shabaab raids a village in northeastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) conducted two separate attacks targeting Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed forces in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, on July 10 and July 12. AQAP fighters mortared an STC-backed position at Tabat al Rubham, al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, during a visit by STC-backed commanders on July 10.[i] AQAP sniped an STC-backed fighter on July 12 in al Mahfad district, “seriously wounding him.”[ii]

The STC-backed 1st Support and Reinforcement Brigade attacked a gathering of AQAP fighters in Wadi al Khayala, al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on July 12. The brigade’s attack prevented an AQAP attack and caused an unspecified number of casualties among the AQAP force. AQAP injured one STC-backed fighter.[iii]

AQAP fighters detonated an IED planted on an STC-backed 5th Support and Reinforcement Brigade vehicle in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on July 13. The IED killed one STC-backed fighter and wounded three more.[iv]

Local Hadrami Islah leader Saleh Batis appeared with AQAP facilitator al Hassan Ali Akbar in Seiyun, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen, on July 13. The United States designated Ali Akbar, citing his “responsibility for supporting AQAP’s violent terrorist activities,” in December 2016.[v]

South-north winds in the Red Sea caused Houthi naval mines to float to the northwest, “threatening the lives of fisherman, sea-goers, and international navigation,” according to the Yemeni Landmine Monitor.[vi]

Somalia Security Brief

US-trained Danab commandos and local forces cleared Welmaro village, Afmadow district, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on July 12.[vii] The operation resulted in the deaths of 50 al Shabaab militants and the seizure of numerous weapons and vehicles.[viii] The al Shabaab planners behind recent bombings in southern Somalia were among the killed.[ix] In the evening, Danab commandos killed another 17 al Shabaab militants, who were newly trained suicide bombers.[x]

Al Shabaab raided Widhu village, Lamu County, northeastern Kenya, on July 12.[xi] The militants set fire to six houses, burning one man alive. The militants stole food supplies before leaving the village.

Al Shabaab temporarily seized a forward operating base in Gherille, Bardhere district, Gedo region, southern Somalia on July 13.[xii] The African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) had recently transferred ownership of the base over to the Somali National Army (SNA) on June 29.[xiii] Al Shabaab claimed to have killed three SNA soldiers during the attack. Regional Jubbaland forces recaptured the base later at night.[xiv]

Al Shabaab launched a series of simultaneous attacks in Mandera County, northeastern Kenya, on July 14.[xv] The militants first destroyed local telecommunications towers. Al Shabaab then shelled a Kenyan Defense Forces base in the town of El Wak, preventing soldiers from leaving. Militants subsequently raided a Kenyan police camp in Wargadud and a government building in Iresuki. The attacks resulted in the deaths of three police officers and one civilian.

A lone al Shabaab suicide bomber targeted the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Wadag district, Mogadishu, on July 14.[xvi] The explosion killed a former government official and reportedly resulted in other casualties.

[i] SITE, “AQAP Claims Mortar Attack on UAE-Backed STC Commanders, Shoots down UAV in Abyan”, July 11, 2023, available by subscription at:

[ii] SITE,”AQAP Claims 5 Casualties Among UAE-Backed Forces in Sniping Op, Vehicle Bombing in Abyan”, available by subscription at:

[iii] Yemen Future,”Yemen: Transitional forces in Yemen thwart al-Qaeda terrorist attack in Abyan, in the south of the country”, July 12, 2023,

[iv] SITE,”AQAP Claims 5 Casualties Among UAE-Backed Forces in Sniping Op, Vehicle Bombing in Abyan”, available by subscription at:

[v] South24, Twitter, July 13, 2023,; Reuters, “US sanctions two Yemenis, charity tied to al Qaeda in Yemen,” December 7, 2016,

[vi] AkhbaraYomNews, Twitter, July 13, 2023,

[vii] Goobjoog News, “Over 50 Al-Shabaab Militants Killed in Lower Jubba,” July 12, 2023,

[viii] SONNA, “Over 50 Al-Shabaab Militants Killed in Lower Jubba Operation,” July 11, 2023,

[ix] Garowe Online, “Somalia: SNA Forces Kill Mastermind of Jubaland Bombings,” July 12, 2023,

[x] SONNALIVE, Twitter, July 12, 2023,

[xi] The Star, “Man Burnt Alive by Suspected Shabaab Militants in Lamu,” July 12, 2023,

[xii] Garowe Online, “Somalia: Al-Shabaab Seizes Key Base Near Kenya’s Border,” July 13, 2023,

[xiii] ATMIS_Somalia, Twitter, June 29, 2023,

[xiv] Shabelle Media, “Jubbaland Forces Recaptured Giriley Area,” July 14, 2023,

[xv] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Reports Control of Kenyan Town Following Major Attack, Strikes Nearby Military Positions and Communications Center,” July 14, 2023,

[xvi] SITE Intelligence Group, “Continuing to Wage Significant Operations at a Rapid Pace, Shabaab Claims Suicide Bombing in Somali Capital,” July 14, 2023,


View Citations
Arrow down red
Aug '23
Jul '23
Jun '23